Reviews written by registered user
|479 reviews in total|
When I rented Buena Vista Social Club I didn't have any appreciation for the type of music played by the Club; I still don't know what it's called. I rented the movie because I'm a Ry Cooder fan, and have seen some Wim Wenders' movies I liked. I wasn't expecting much, but the result is that I've just seen one of the best documentaries in my life. The premise is very simple, it's all about the old musicians and the wonderful music they make. You get to visit their modest homes, hang out in their neighborhoods, and listen to their music. Nothing more than that, but done so well, so effortlessly, you wish you could step through the screen and join them. I would recommend this film to anyone.
Junior High must be the tenth circle of Hell. How do any of us scrawny,
not-cool geeks survive it? Perhaps we don't, and all our adult neurosis
trace back to 7th grade homeroom and not Mom after all.
Not convinced? Watch Welcome to the Dollhouse and relive Hell.
Dawn Wiener is the protagonist, an awkward 7th grader who is put-upon by everyone from her family to schoolmates. She suffers a multitude of insults, all too small to register with adults who could help, but which inflict a thousand darts to her soul. The movie made me cringe, unearthing long suppressed memories of adolescent cruelties and torment at the hands of bullies. Is this entertainment? Absolutely, Todd Solondz did an admirable job in his freshman movie.
I'm not hip anymore, if I ever was. But in my teens I sure was a dopey,
foul-mouthed, slacker and relying on the memories of that experience I
can understand the appeal of JSBSB. That squirrelly demographic surely
has to be Ken Smith's target audience, he's sure not shooting for the
Merchant/Ivory crowd. That said then, does he hit his intended targets?
Yes, but not nearly enough of the time. What is essentially sketch comedy is forced into a (dumb) linear plot and stretched out far too long. Jay and Silent Bob could thrive within the confines of a 30-minute TV program, albeit it would have to be on cable. But trying to tell a movie-length story? Nope. There are some very funny bits, but plenty more time is spent on trying to establish a narrative arc that just isn't there. It didn't work.
My problem with Anger Management is not that it's another comedic
misfire by Adam Sandler, but that he takes Jack Nicholson down with
him. Mr. Nicholson has done excellent work in comedy in the past. But
they were roles with substance; good direction, script, and supporting
actors. And even his most dramatic roles seem tinged with a sardonic
humor such as Jake Gittes, or the whacked-out 'Heeeres Johnny!'. Anger
Management is just a piece of fluff with nothing behind it,
particularly a decent script. The script seems solely designed as a
series setups for Sandler and Nicholson to bask in the limelight and
overact. It's unseemly.
Sandler playing Sandler was not very funny when it was fresh, but now it's getting tiresome. I can see why Sandler needed Nicholson, but I don't understand why Nicholson accepted.
My problem with Anger Management is not that it's another comedic misfire by
Adam Sandler, but that he takes Jack Nicholson down with him. Jack has done
some excellent work in comedy in the past. But they were roles with
substance; good direction, script, supporting actors. Anger Management is a
piece of fluff with nothing behind it, particularly a decent script. The
script seems solely designed as a series setups for Sandler and Nicholson to
bask in the limelight and overact. It's unseemly.
Sandler playing Sandler was not very funny when it was fresh, him newly minted from his hysterical stint on SNL. But now it's getting tiresome. I can see why Sandler needed Nicholson, but I don't understand why Nicholson accepted.
F. Gary Gray has created a very effective high-speed caper flick. Nothing too deep, just the basic elements delivered with style and flash. These elements include the members of the gang; the sage leader, his number one, the tactician, geek, and explosives guy. Then there's the initial big heist, betrayal and death, another theft that is bigger than the first, while not forgetting the obligatory chase scenes, other cliffhangers, and romance. The characters are portrayed by a well-rounded ensemble cast who usually resist chewing the scenery. The directing is competent and abetted by a great soundtrack. No overreaching by Mr. Gray, he delivers a straight, just-for-entertainment story, and does it very well.
What if the creator and host of two of the 1970s biggest and lamest
television game shows was also a part-time CIA hitman? That he used The
Dating Game and The Gong Show as a cover to stage assassinations in the
netherworld of Cold War espionage. Ridiculous you'd say. But that's what
exactly what Chuck Barris claims in his autobiography, and Charlie Kaufman
accepts carte blanche as the premise for his screenplay. The film plays it
straight up as if Barris were telling the truth.
Can Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, and George Clooney, the director pull it off? Mostly. It is competently acted by Sam Rockwell as Barris, Julia Roberts as a fellow spy, Drew Barrymore as his love interest, and director George Clooney as his CIA recruiter and handler. The bizarre landscape, a marriage of television and espionage, is presented without a smirk or wink. If Barris is telling the truth, this is what it must have been like. It's an interesting idea, and Clooney and Kaufman have taken it and crafted an enjoyable film.
Loosely based on a Jules Verne novel, The Mysterious Island is set in a
mythical kingdom by the sea where one of its leading royalty (Lionel
Barrymore) doubles as cutting-edge scientist who invents the submarine and
diving suit. In the course of exploring he and his buds discover a
civilization of sea creatures that look like walking frogs and have the
sensibilities of a pack of hyenas. There are also above-surface issues of
betrayal, palace coups, wars, and young love.
Made on the cusp between silent and sound films, The Mysterious Island is caught somewhere in between; it is part talkie and part silent. Oddly there doesn't seem to be a dramatic or thematic rationale for deciding which scenes have sound and which don't. And why didn't the producers choose one format over the other for the entire movie? But they didn't, and this alone makes the film a novelty. Another reason to watch The Mysterious Island is the 1929-era special effects. They're a hoot. But even when these factors are taken in to account there is not much reason to invest the time in this movie.
Crippled during a confrontation with his wife's lover, Phroso, a famous
English magician (Lon Chaney, Sr), vows to exact terrible revenge on wife
and lover. A couple of year's later when the wife, fatally ill, returns to
London with a young child, Phroso's plans are put into action. After she
succumbs to her illness, Phroso emigrates to Africa with her child, where
the wife's lover is an ivory trader, a vocation also undertaken by Phroso.
Now known as Dead-Legs he becomes the most feared and degenerate backcountry ivory trader west of Zanzibar. He raises his daughter, who he presumes is not his own, to be a drug-addicted prostitute. With his wife's child debased, he waits like a spider in his web for the man who cuckolded and then paralyzed him. Dark stuff, this.
It's a morbid although entertaining little tale, and Lon Chaney gives his usual top-notch performance, transitioning from the big-hearted Phroso to the crippled (in both body and sole) Dead-Legs. The movie is worth watching just for his performance. Tod Browning is in his element and delivers up a dark, creepy tale. So what that the plot twists are telegraphed from a mile away, and the portrayal of Africans is negatively stereotyped. If these shortcomings can be overlooked, this is a good example of the Browning-Chaney collaborations. Not bad for a silent film, which has a recorded soundtrack, coming as it did on the cusp of the transition to sound.
A young American woman arrives in France to visit her married and pregnant
sister. Instead of a happy visit she stumbles into a trauma-stricken scene
as the sister learns that her husband is leaving her for her another. Is the
man's family sympathetic and supportive of the betrayed wife? Of course not,
they're only disturbed by the timing of the departure
it looks in bad form
to leave a pregnant wife. The American Mom, Dad, and Brother show up to
help, especially to retrieve a valuable family painting that is in France
with Sis, but a piece of property that the French family also covets.
Complicating matters, the visiting sister begins an affair with the
husband's married uncle, as a multitude of other characters begin to pop
The acting is mostly journeyman (although there are a few standouts like Stockard Channing as the American Mom), but is adequate for the material. Okay so it's also over plotted, overpopulated, and over done. I still enjoyed it, and would recommend it, although not heartily.
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